As we explore interior design, we hew to a steadfast editorial premise: "Modern" comes in a variety of guises. There are no "right" furnishings, there are only choices that accurately reflect the values of the homeowner. That assessment, and the ultimate menu of selections that support it, can be delivered only by someone who understands the needs, the desires, and—most importantly—the true lifestyle of the residents. This issue is devoted to that practice.
We know that smart interior design has a powerful influence on the livability of a space. This is clearly illustrated in our story about a beach house on Fire Island, New York. A couple purchased it thinking that they would tear it down and build anew, or, at the very least, undertake an extensive renovation. In the meantime, they hired designer Alexandra Angle to spruce up the space for the upcoming season, and became so enamored that they decided to stick with her colorful interior intervention.
Florence Deau represents an important progression in the role of interior designer: to harness the visual cacophony of the Web to deliver a nuanced perspective that is both current and respectful of history. We first came across her work through her popular blog, Flodeau, where she features the latest design news from around the world. Before the Internet, this type of information would be reserved for select industry insiders. Today anyone, anywhere, can follow along. She extrapolates that vision into a renovation of an idiosyncratic midcentury building in southwest France—a masterful project that respects the architectural era of the structure while introducing compatible pieces created in the past few years.
Speaking of honoring the past, we have the pleasure of presenting a revitalized Saul Zaik house in Portland. Designer Jessica Helgerson rescued it from a series of less-than-reverent remodels by restoring the house with materials appropriate to Zaik’s original design. She grouped antiques alongside modern classics and contemporary pieces, forging a space that feels like 2015—warm, inviting, and livable. The story is a tremendous example of modernism’s reach.
Another delightful project is the subject of our cover story. Maca Huneeus used her considerable design talents to deliver a California ski retreat that is at once simple and deeply expressive of what is most important to her: family, an appreciation of the outdoors, entertaining friends, and traveling the world. Warm, natural materials coalesce with flexible living spaces, culminating in a home that provides a rich backdrop for her four daughters’ collective childhood.
Elsewhere in the issue we flip the script and check in with someone who has helped influence how we see design, from the home to the office to the national coffee chain down the block. At 87, Lucia DeRespinis is as motivated and industrious as ever, which makes her an invaluable resource and inspiration to younger generations of designers. Lastly, don’t miss Tiffany Bowie and Joe Malboeuf’s home in Seattle. The couple, both architects, created a clever three-unit infill project, sharing their interpretation of what modern living means: making use of an underutilized lot, building densely near public transit, designing clean interiors with striking finishes, and embracing community.
As always, our hope is that in the pages that follow, there will be a story that prompts a reconsideration of what a "modern" interior means. No matter the aesthetic choice, good design should serve both voiced and unexpressed needs, smoothing the world’s disruptions and providing a backdrop that supports, inspires, and protects.
Amanda Dameron, Editor-in-Chief
Follow me on Twitter: @AmandaDameron
Get the Dwell Newsletter
Be the first to see our latest home tours, design news, and more.